Diet and Gene Expression By: Mandy Meijer
On: 13 November 2021

How Diet Influences Gene Expression

Note: Image adapted from Dolinoy, Weidman, Waterland & Jirtle 2006 in Enviromental Health Perspectives [2]. The human body consists of more than 200 different types of cells, but all cells contain the same DNA code. How is it possible that the same code tells the various types of cells to be different? The information for life is not only coded in the DNA, but also on the DNA. Chemical attachments, which are called DNA methylation, can “turn off” part of the DNA code that are not needed in a specific cell. DNA methylation can also be influenced by our surroundings...

middle aged woman eating healthy food for a healthy brain By: Stephanie Nishi
On: 11 November 2021

Following a “Healthy” Diet May Benefit Cognitive Performance in Middle Age and Beyond

Recently, a research group in Australia published an interesting paper where they compared earlier published findings assessing the impact of different diets on cognitive health. In this blog I will summarize the most important findings of this study, as it has valuable implications for the work we are doing with the Eat2beNICE project. What was the reason for this research and key objective? Cognitive health, meaning how well we think, learn, and remember, is an important component of maintaining our quality of life, social and economic well-being. Our cognitive health declines as a normal part of the aging trajectory. However,...

fast car speeding By: Katre Sakala
On: 5 November 2021

Fast driver, fast life: genetics and everyday behaviour reflected in risky driving

In early October, Tõnis Tokko – a PhD student in our group – presented his research at the ECNP annual conference, an international meeting where researchers from all over the world present their latest findings on topics related to neuroscience and mental health. His presentation about the links between risk-taking behaviour in traffic, unhealthy lifestyle and genetics attracted a lot of media attention. You can read the full press release below. But let me summarize for you what Tõnis found. Tõnis’s presentation was about risk-taking in traffic and how one genotype and unhealthy lifestyle is associated with that. Both risk-taking...

gut health By: Dr. Mirjam Bloemendaal, Dr. Jeanette Mostert
On: 3 November 2021

Why gut health is important for your brain and immune system

We recently saw a video (see footnote below) on the CNN website where medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why gut health is important for immunity. This video is very short and many complex terms are mentioned here. So we thought we’d give you a bit more context about this topic. What’s a microbiome test? What we think Dr. Gupta means here is sending in a sample of your feces to a lab ran by either a hospital or company to identify which types of bacteria and how many of these live in your gut. It is certainly interesting to...

Yangwenshan Ou
By: Yangwenshan Ou
On: 2 November 2021

Can the gut microbiota predict behavior in mentally healthy individuals?

Maintaining mental health is important. The gut microbiota, mainly composed of bacteria, is considered to play a pivotal role in retaining mental health. It is not surprising that most gut microbiota-brain related studies are focused on diagnosed mental disorders,[2] due to their severity and urgency. With a better understanding of the role the gut microbiota plays in mental disorders, researchers start their explorations in a wider group, that does not have a disorder. This group is often called the “neurotypical population”. The neurotypical population is defined as medically and psychologically healthy individuals who have a normal pattern of neurodevelopment.[1] Though...

Colberg Baking By: Paula Colberg
On: 27 September 2021

Getting ready for the next lockdown- is coping with a piece of cake a good idea?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people’s personal as well as work situation changed. People who previously worked in an office now work from home. Other people were put on short-time work or even lost their jobs. This new time – with all its restrictions and recommendations to stay at home and to not socialize – drove people to start something unexpected: they started baking! In this blog, we will look at what baking does to people as a coping mechanism, based on a survey by a Canadian research group.  Neuroscientist Melissa Chee  and her colleagues from the Carlton university in...

By: Dr. Alessandro Atzeni
On: 21 September 2021

Fecal microbiota transplantation and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological disorder that causes dementia (e.g. memory loss). As its prevalence among elderly individuals is expected to increase during the next decades, Alzheimer’s disease has become one of the major public health problems worldwide.  Many researchers are therefore looking for new ways to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease. One promising new technique is poop transplants, officially called “fecal microbiota transplantations”. This method could be a promising new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, although at this moment much more research is needed before it can really be applied to patients on a large scale. How a disturbed gut...

Maryam Golzarnia
By: Maryam Golzarnia
On: 13 September 2021

Does impulsivity increase unhealthy eating behaviors and are there any differences between men and women?

It is often thought that impulsivity results in unhealthy eating. For instance, overeating due to stress, or making unhealthy food choices in response to advertisements. Up until now, most research has focused on only the dysfunctional aspects of impulsivity, while I wanted to know if functional impulsivity is also linked to unhealthy eating. I was also interested in differences between men and women. From my study, I concluded that there was no link between either form of impulsivity and unhealthy eating, nor was there a difference between men and women. However, this could be due to the homogeneity of our...

By: Dr. Larissa Niemeyer
On: 7 September 2021

How your morning coffee might save you from skin cancer

Every few years a new group of scientists publishes their recent study results on “bad” and “healthy” food and gives new dietary advice. As “superfoods” like avocado, chia seeds and goji berries come and go and fill the pockets of marketing experts, the question remains which nutrients and aliments are really helping to live a longer, healthier life. Especially interesting for many people is the question of food-related risk factors for cancer. There are aliments that have been connected to a higher risk of developing cancer types like lung, skin or liver cancer. However, these results aren’t always consistent and...

By: Johanne Telnes Instanes
On: 7 September 2021

Why you should limit added sugar in your diet

There are many sources of sugar in our diet.  So-called natural present sugar naturally occurs in food. One example is milk sugar (lactose) found in milk and yoghurt. Sugars in fruits are another example of natural sugar. In addition to sugar, these foods also contain important nutrients like vitamins and minerals. There are also a lot of foods that contain additional, added sugar. Added sugar is usually understood as sugar added to food during food preparation or processing [1]. There are several reasons for adding sugars to food. Commonly they are used as sweeteners and to preserve food. They are...